Holly Robinson Peete answers your questions about parenting a child with autism. Please note that Holly is not a doctor, see your family physician with any questions about your child.
Question: Do you have any tips on what to say to my doctor and how to get them to listen?
Holly Robinson Peete: Don't be accusatory and preface your questions with "I am not trying to be disrespectful or your profession but please honor my mommy intuition by indulging me…" If you pediatrician discounts your feelings, is condescending or belittles you SWITCH fast!
Q: How do I get my husband to embrace our child with autism?
HRP: Tell him you understand how hard it must be for him. Find time to pamper him!!
Q: What do you tell RJ's siblings about autism?
HRP: I told them their brother's brain works differently from theirs. That if he doesn't respond to them or doesn't play with them not to take it personally and that he still loves them—it's just difficult for him to show it.
Q: How does your twin daughter Ryan handle all this being a twin?
HRP: It has been hard on her. She is so connected to him and worries about him all the time. She can be like a smothering mother at times! He is very comfortable around her—she has been a great support system for him. Siblings play an important part of intervention.
Q: What should I do if my husband isn't dealing with this well?
HRP: Validate his feelings!! Email Rodney on our site www.hollyrod.org—he will be answering questions for the dad. This is a piece of the autism equation that is being ignored: Dads need help with their feelings.
Q: What advice would you have for people having children later in life? What can they do to protect their babies?
HRP: Again, just make sure you have a pediatrician who will listen to you and take into account that the autism rate is a bit higher in this category.
Q: Any suggestions for how to pick a great doctor? Is there a list somewhere of medical professionals who specialize in PDD?
HRP: www.autismspeaks.org and www.autismcenter.org are two excellent resources for this.
Q: Are immunizations still the focus of the Autism community or are there other potential causes being researched, such as preservatives in food, etc.?
HRP: Immunizations are just one potential contributor or trigger…there are other environmental factors that are being looked at—infertility drugs, labor inducing drugs, Herpes virus.
Q: My son is 18 months old and does not speak, and does this rocking which becomes quite methodical. He plays with his siblings and smiles at me and my husband, but as soon as he sees my mom, or anyone else, he gives a blank stare to them almost expressionless. At home he seems like a normal child. He is a bit aggressive for a 18 month old. I was wondering if you noticed any of these behaviors in your son?
HRP: Yes—some of this sounds familiar. You need to have him seen by a developmental pediatrician.
Q: From your perspective, where should you start in the therapy? What do you focus on (besides the story videos)?
HRP: I found a hybrid of ABA and floortime worked well for my son. I liked forcing him to play with me and make eye contact (floortime) and I thought the structure of ABA was also helpful.
Q: My gut tells me that I shouldn't go with the traditional vaccine schedule, but I don't know how to make the best decision. I guess I am wondering what choices you would have made if you could go back and re-do the vaccines and what you would have based your decisions on. Would you have not gotten certain ones or tried a delayed schedule?
HRP: I would wait on MMR until after 2 or 3 years or at least have it broken up into 3 shots. Any doctor can special order these shots for you. If they say they can't, they are not being truthful. The cocktails—MMR, DPT—are the ones with the highest toxicity and may be hard for some children to handle so young all at once.
Printed from Oprah.com on Sunday, May 19, 2013
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